Here’s another helpful set of advice from the new book by Alex Chediak called Beating the College Debt Trap.
What if you’re wondering if you should skip the college scene all the way? What else could you do? Here’s a couple options Chediak gives…
1. Get an associate’s degree in a strategic, marketable field.
In 2014, of the 18 million students in undergraduate programs, 7.3 million were at two-year colleges. That’s not terribly lopsided, but many of those two-year students don’t ultimately earn associate degrees. They just pick up credits on the cheap and, if all goes well, transfer them into bachelor’s degree programs – usually a smart, cost-saving move.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a bachelor’s degree. It’s what I did, and it worked out great. But here;s the thing: Depending on what field you pursue, there may or may not be a job waiting on the other side. A 2010 report from Georgetown University economists predicted that future job openings for college graduates will be split roughly fifty-fifty between those requiring bachelor’s or advanced degrees and those requiring associate’s degrees or occupational certificates. But in 2012, bachelor’s degree recipients outstripped associate’s degree recipients by about 75 percent.
… Keep in mind that most people with an associate’s degree earn less than most people with a bachelor’s degree. So to earn a higher salary, you have to choose a strategic field (the health care ans technology sectors are strong). Also note that the figures in the previous paragraph are for recent graduates. Over the long run, bachelor’s degree recipients can experience large salary increases, depending on their industry and especially if they move into management. But it’s also true that an associate’s degree or some other advanced certificate. In the mean time, you’re out of school faster and earning real money sooner.
2. Learn a skilled trade.
While many college graduates struggle to find full-time work in their field, on the other side f the spectrum, we’ve got employers complaining that they can;t find enough people with the right skills to hire. Manpower Group, a North American – based multinational human resource consulting firm, conducts a massive annual survey to identify which jobs employers have the most difficulty filling. At the top of the list, for four years in a row (2010-2013), are skilled trade workers. Think electricians, welders, mechanics, HVACR technicians, and so on.
… So how do you get started in the skilled trades? Either at a trade school (a.k.a vocational school) or through a registered apprenticeship. Both combine classroom instruction with hands-on training, and with either, check them out thoroughly before enrolling. Some trade schools are affordable, accredited with the appropriate agency, and boast high graduation rates, top-notch instructors, and a stellar job placement record. It’s best if they grant an associate’s degree job placement record. It’s best if they grant an associate’s degree (such as an Associate of Applied Sciences) at the completion of their training. Others are expensive unaccredited, and have low graduation and job placement rates. Not surprisingly, these schools have higher student loan default rates.
Apprenticeships range from one to six years, averaging about four years. Most of the time apprentices earn while they learn. You’s want to choose from one of the twenty-one thousand or so registered prograns thoughout the country. The Office of Apprenticeship (OA) works in conjunction with independent State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) to monitor the quality of these programs ensure the safety of some 350,000 participants. Their website is www.doleta.gov/oa.a.